The Nigeria-born Community

Historical Background

Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom in October 1960. It is an oil-rich country located in Western Africa.

Small numbers of Nigeria-born people have settled in Australia. The first significant West African migration to Australia was in the mid-1960s. They were students under Australia's Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan, mostly from Ghana and Nigeria. More than 70 per cent of these students stayed in Australia mainly to avoid the impacts of the military coups in the home countries.

While the numbers are small, Nigeria continues to be a source of skilled and family migrants to Australia.


Geographic Distribution

The latest Census in 2011 recorded 4519 Nigeria-born people in Australia, an increase of 80.8 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed New South Wales had the largest number with 1481 followed by Victoria (1129), Western Australia (726) and Queensland (613).

Age and Sex

The median age of the Nigeria-born in 2011 was 36 years compared with 45 years for all overseas-born and 37 years for the total Australian population.

The age distribution showed 11.8 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 10.8 per cent were 15-24 years, 52.3 per cent were 25-44 years, 24.1 per cent were 45-64 years and 1 per cent were 65 years and over.

Of the Nigeria-born in Australia, there were 2643 males (58.5 per cent) and 1875 females (41.5 per cent). The sex ratio was 141 males per 100 females.


In the 2011 Census, the top ancestry responses* that Nigeria-born people reported were Nigerian (1925), African, so described (985) and English (496).

In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. Of the total ancestry responses*, 3467 responses were towards Nigerian ancestry.

*At the 2011 Census up to two responses per person were allowed for the Ancestry question; therefore providing the total responses and not persons count.


The main languages spoken at home by Nigeria-born people in Australia were English (1871), Yoruba (1095) and Igbo (736).

Of the 2650 Nigeria-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 95.2 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 1.4 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.


At the 2011 Census the major religious affiliations amongst Nigeria-born were Pentecostal (1127), Catholic (949) and Anglican (555).

Of the Nigeria-born, 6 per cent stated 'No Religion' which was lower than that of the total Australian population (22.3 per cent), and 4.2 per cent did not state a religion.


Compared to 62 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 31.3 per cent of the Nigeria-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 2001.

Among the total Nigeria-born in Australia at the 2011 Census, 23.8 per cent arrived between 2001 and 2006 and 41 per cent arrived between 2007 and 2011.

Median Income

At the time of the 2011 Census, the median individual weekly income for the Nigeria-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $784 compared with $538 for all overseas-born and $597 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $577.


At the 2011 Census, 82.4 per cent of the Nigeria-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 55.9 per cent of the Australian population.

Of the Nigeria-born aged 15 years and over, 8.4 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.


Among Nigeria-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 82.9 per cent and the unemployment rate was 8.6 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 65 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Of the 2988 Nigeria-born who were employed, 56.1 per cent were employed in either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation. The corresponding rate in the total Australian population was 48.4 per cent.

Produced by the Community Relations Section of DIAC All data used in this summary is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing. Sources for the Historical Background are available on our website.
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